The Jharkhand High Court on Wednesday refused to vacate its earlier order on banning the cutting of trees and extended the ban across the state. The court also constituted a five person committee to find out if the government’s decision to cut trees for road widening purposes and other developmental work is justified and asked it to suggest measures to save the trees.
A division bench of chief justice Virender Singh and justice PP Bhatt formed the panel comprising chief principal conservator of forest, town commissioner of Ranchi municipal corporation, advocate Delip Jerath, retired Indian forest service (IFS) officer Narendra Mishra and noted environmentalist Bulu Imam who would be a special invitee to the committee. The bench asked the committee to hold its first meeting on June 20 and submit its report.
Pulling up the authorities, the bench said the government should think seriously about saving the trees to maintain the pristine beauty of the state.
“It should sketch out effective plans to carry out developmental works with minimum disturbance to the ecological balance. But, unfortunately this has not been done resulting in mass destruction of trees,” the High Court bench said. “The government should come up with exclusive plan/ project for plantation of trees for the upcoming new capital in Ranchi,” the bench said, adding no tree should be cut down without prior permission of the court.
Thousands and thousands of trees had earlier been cut down along NH-75E connecting Ranchi-Chaibasa, NH-33 section connecting Ranchi-Jamshedpur, NH 23 connecting Ranchi-Gumla and NH-75 connecting Ranchi-Daltongunj to facilitate the ongoing road widening work. Trees had also been cut down for the construction of phase III, IV, V and VI of the ring road in Ranchi.
According to a Supreme Court’s directive, for every one tree which is cut, the authorities concerned would have to plant double the number and care for it for five years.
In a recent episode, the court had taken suo moto cognizance of rampant cutting of trees from Doranda to Hinoo in the state capital. Justice PP Bhatt on June 9 had banned chopping of trees with immediate effect in the entire state till further orders.